Research brief

Typical learning for whom? Guidelines for selecting benchmarks to calculate months of learning

November 2023

By: Megan Kuhfeld, Melissa Diliberti, Andrew McEachin, Jon Schweig, Louis T. Mariano


To describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, researchers have translated test scores into months of learning to claim how many months/years students are behind in school. Despite its perceived accessibility, there are major downsides to this translation. To inform future uses by researchers and media, we discuss in this brief how to calculate this metric as well as its trade-offs.

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